FLINT, Mich., March 26 (UPI) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the federal disaster declaration in Flint so water deliveries can continue through mid-August after the city's lead-tainted water crisis was discovered last year.
FEMA granted the request made by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. It will allow for federal funding to continue bottled water deliveries, along with water filters, replacement cartridges and test kits to continue for another four months.
The disaster declaration includes the city of Flint and extends to all of surrounding Genesee County.
The Flint water crisis began when state officials switched the city's water supply from the Great Lakes to the heavily polluted Flint River in a bid to save money. The polluted river water corroded lead pipes, exposing residents to dangerously high levels of lead in their drinking water.
Lead exposure is especially harmful to children, in whom it can create nervous system and developmental disorders. About 12,000 children in Flint are believed to have been exposed to the tainted water.
FEMA said in a letter to the state's emergency management department the extension, which runs through Aug. 16, would be the final one granted, meaning FEMA money will no longer be available to help address the crisis after that point.
Snyder released a detailed plan this week to address the short- and long-term problems with Flint's water supply. He has faced calls for his resignation over the scandal after it became clear his administration knew about the potential problems and ignored them, all while assuring residents wary of foul-smelling, discolored water that it was safe to drink.
Snyder's plan stops short of what many Flint residents have demanded, which is the total removal of all lead pipes in the city. Under Snyder's plan, some pipes would be removed as part of a pilot program. He has advocated continued water testing and other measures to combat the problem.
State officials have said they expect to be able to declare the city's drinking water safe again sometime in May.